Back in the early '90s, I got myself wrapped up in DC's company crossover event "The Darkness Within", which established Eclipso as a major villain in the DC Universe. Thereafter, I'd grab any Eclipso appearances I could get my hands on, but I never got around to seeking out his earliest Silver Age adventures. Now I have SHOWCASE PRESENTS: ECLIPSO, and while the stories were not that impressive, I'm glad I got this affordable opportunity to find out more about the character and see just how differently he was originally portrayed.
Introduced in House of Secrets #61 (August 1963), Eclipso is the alter-ego of physicist Bruce Gordon. In a series of events that strains even the Silver Age's limits of credibility, Gordon is attacked by a tribal sorceror while visiting a Pacific island to view a solar eclipse. The sorceror scratches Gordon with a black diamond, and naturally, this causes him to transform into the evil Eclipso in the presence of any type of eclipse. His body contorts, his clothes change, and a shadow covers half of his face, resulting in one of the more bizarre comic characters I've ever seen. Once he reverts to his human form, Gordon and company must race to cure his condition before the change occurs again... and so it goes. It wouldn't be until years later that other writers would expand upon Eclipso's origin, revealing what he actually was - but that's a discussion best left for another trade paperback (hopefully).
This volume is one of a small selection of "budget Showcases", meaning it's half the page count of a regular Showcase (collecting stories from HoS # 61 - 80) and priced at ten bucks. Following this run, Eclipso had other appearances outside of HoS, but those are not collected here. As I said earlier, writer Bob Haney's stories are no great shakes, and the artwork by Lee Elias, Jack Sparling, and Bob Bailey, is adequate. The real highlight of this collection is the handful of issues penciled by master draftsman Alex Toth. His solid, high-contrast work brings some real style to the character - it's just a shame he didn't do more of these issues. Based on my interest in Eclipso, I had planned to write a more extensive review, but I guess this is really all that this volume needs. It's some of DC's more laughable Silver Age material, but it was interesting nonetheless.